Let’s be honest – we love our ideas. They are like our babies; we are with them from the beginning, we carefully raise them in our minds – and we are like mothers who love their children unconditionally – we are proud of them and we become emotionally attached to them somehow. If somebody use our idea without permission we might become over-protective and defensive.
It’s relatively easy to get attached to our ideas when we have poured blood, sweat and tears into them.
Human brain, psychology and business ideas
There is a strong psychological mechanism which supports this process – it’s called “psychological ownership”.
Why does this happen to us? How does it work? There are some theoretical explanations; one of which is called an “attachment theory”. It suggests that psychological ownership creates a non-transferable association between the self and the good (in this case our idea). The good is incorporated into the self-concept of the owner, becoming part of his/her identity. Self-associations in this case might take the form of an emotional attachment to the good. Once an attachment has formed, the potential loss of the good is perceived as a threat to the self.
Do you think that, if you came up with a new idea for making money, you could face something like this?
Why this is a problem? Blind in one eye
Once the attachment is formed, we become selective in the feedback we hear. We only take the positive feedback into account.
Once the attachment is formed, we become selective in the feedback we hear (there is research which backs up this claim). We literally become blind in one eye (sometimes in two as well). We only take the positive feedback into account.
So how will this affect the chances of business success when it comes to implementing an idea?
Things will often get worse – if you have a new business idea, who are the people you will go to for feedback? This will often be people who are not prepared to support entrepreneurs professionally – for example relatives and friends. They want to support you, just as they understand the importance of support. They believe in you, so there will likely say something like: “this is good”, “I like it”, “this is amazing” (which is anyway, quite useless feedback from a business point of view). It will only strengthen your the belief in investing (time, money, energy, etc.) in your idea.
When this is the case, we will not be able see that the idea is not well adapted to the business environment and we are likely to fail.
Any rescue? How to get out from this place?
Don’t fall in love in your idea.
First of all, be very aware: you are not your idea (if the idea is bad, it doesn’t mean you are a bad businessman, or a worthless human being; the opposite also applies – if t you have a great idea/ideas, it doesn’t mean you are always right). Your company it is not you. You are you. Don’t take criticism of your idea as a critique of you. And don’t get married to the first eruption of creativity that comes from your mind.
Will you come up with one idea? Write it down on a sheet of paper, hang it on a wall… and forget about it. Sit down and come up with 5-10 others ideas. If you have a team, organise a brainstorm session. Generate a few to a dozen different ideas. Have a discussion, talk about strong and weak points of each idea, use napkins to present it to other members, vote – select a few the best ones and ask yourself what would have to be true for your ideas to work? Think about what evidence you have to back it up. Ask your self what you need to check to produce the evidence. Always make decisions based on evidences not ideas.
Don’t fall in love in your idea.
In order to confront the rapidly-evolving world around us, we need to have a system in place to adapt with the changes. This article is the second from the series which aims to describe basic approaches, which can help to be more responsive and adaptive. Sign up to the newsletter – so you will never miss an update!